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End of February Reflections

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Well, as I wrote in the last post, I haven't been "on it" this month. Not in the slightest. This lapse is reflected in my goals-achievement, which is a total of two. I did finish reading the book we were studying at the Lit Salon because we had the last meeting the day my grandmother died, which means I had to finish the book beforehand. I somehow managed to run twice every week. I think it's because I feel so much better after I run, I just need that. But there was no writing happening of any kind. So I want to take the opportunity to talk about how to get back on the horse after not achieving your goals.

If you've been following this blog, you are probably sick and tired of reading about how I haven't met my goals. It's happened a lot. And sometimes I feel like I'm kind of setting myself up for depression because I set goals for myself that are unattainable. I mean, look at the February goals:

February Goals

Polish first three chapters of Labour Pains.

Draft queries for agents.

Finish the first draft of The Missive.

Blog twice a week.

Finish Jazz.

Run twice a week.

Now, the writing goals may not make sense if you account for half-term, but I was supposed to go on a writing retreat during half-term. I had to cancel it because I was away all week before, so, you know, life is what happens while we're making other plans. But if you look at this list and mark yourself as 2/6 which is a resounding fail (for the second month in a row), how do you bounce back from that? How do you not declare yourself a complete and utter failure? I wouldn't know how you do it, but here's what I do.

1. I make excuses. It's ok; it's completely legit. In fact, it's one of our better coping mechanisms. If I can attribute my failures to external circumstances that are outside my control, I'm doing well.

2. I go back to basics. It's a cliche, I know. But it works. What are the basics for me?

  • Make sure I get 6 hours of sleep every night.

  • Make sure I do my yoga and meditation every single morning.

  • Make a deal with myself that if I've done 5 Pomodoros (see #3), I'm allowed to take the rest of the day off to read and cook and hang out with the little people.

3. I sit my bum down in the chair and write. I use a repeat timer app to mark 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of break in a method called Pomodoro. During the 25 minutes of work, I do not get out of the chair even if I do scroll along a Google street view of India for "research purposes". During the 5 minutes break, I do not sit in the chair, and I'm only allowed to do non-work stuff like booking a hair appointment (done!). The 5 minutes break happens even if I spent the last 25 minutes down the rabbit hole of success and failure attribution professional literature. The point is, it'll only happen once. Then I feel so bad about spending the precious 25 minutes on other people's words that I crank out a whole lot more of them on the next round.

4. I eat chocolate and carbs. They make me happy. It's winter. Shut up.

5. I reduce my goals by a lot. I make small goals that I know I'll hit, and I go into weekly or even daily planning. For example, today's plan is a blog post. That's it. If I finish before my Pomodoros are up, I may do some freewriting, maybe some editing, maybe planning for tomorrow or Wednesday. Take it one day at a time, and keep thinking "baby steps".

6. I bake and cook, see the last point in #2. It's a win-win because we'll have a home-cooked dinner. And muffins.

That's it, really. Now with that in mind, my March goals are nonexistent because I've gone into survival mode in terms of goals. But if I were to choose three then:

  1. Blog twice a week.

  2. Run at least twice a week.

  3. Make a list of 10 agents I want to query, personalise the query letter for each.

Let's see where I am in April, shall we?


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